Michigan State Spartans Prove to be Legitimate Threat for Next Season's National Championship

Ross Benjamin

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 3:35 PM GMT

Our college football consultant is coming off a fabulous 2014 season. Join us in reading his college football preview article pertaining to the 2015 Michigan State Spartans. This intriguing piece concludes with a pick on their projected regular season win total for the upcoming year.

2015 Michigan State Spartans Preview
Michigan State is coming off a terrific 11-2 season, culminated with a thrilling come from behind 42-41 win over Baylor in the Cotton Bowl. Their only two losses came at the hands of Oregon and Ohio State. In case you were living under a rock over the last year, and decided to recently give up your seclusion, both of those opponents played in last season’s national championship game. With 7 starters returning on each side of the ball, there’s no doubt that Michigan State is expected to be a serious national championship contender. According to the college football betting odds at Bovada, their posted future regular season win total is set at 9.5. Going over 9.5 comes at a steep price of -175, and under 9.5 at +135.

 

The Schedule

09/04/15

at Western Michigan

09/12/15

vs. Oregon

09/19/15

vs. Air Force

09/26/15

Vs. Central Michigan

10/03/15

vs. Purdue

10/10/15

at Rutgers

10/17/15

at Michigan

10/24/15

vs. Indiana

11/07/15

at Nebraska

11/14/15

vs. Maryland

11/21/15

at Ohio State

11/28/15

vs. Penn State


The Spartans will play seven home games and five on the road this season. The non-conference part of the schedule includes four teams that went a combined 38-16 (.704) last year. However, they should be a prohibitive favorite in each game against Western Michigan, Air Force, and Central Michigan. The one huge matchup in that portion of their schedule comes in their second game of the year when they’ll host Oregon. The Spartans will be out to avenge their 46-27 loss at Eugene last season. The 27 points they scored in that game was their lowest offensive output of the year.

The Big Ten conference schedule includes a few very difficult road games. They’ll travel to play at Michigan, Nebraska, and in Columbus versus the defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes. Although Michigan is coming off a down year, and is transitioning to a new coaching staff, it’s still a huge rivalry game. Nebraska is expected to challenge Wisconsin this season for the top spot in the Big Ten West division. They’ll also have an opportunity for payback against Ohio State after suffering a disappointing 49-37 loss at home to the Buckeyes last season. The home part of their conference slate is nowhere near as imposing, those four opponents combined to go 8-24 in Big Ten action a season ago.

 

The Offense
Michigan State fans were elated to find out that starting quarterback Connor Cook would be returning for his senior year. Cook threw for 3214 yards last year, completed 58.1% of his pass attempts, and had 24 touchdown passes versus only 8 interceptions. A lot will be cast on his shoulders this season since the Spartans lose both their leading rusher and receiver from a year ago. Gone are running back Jeremy Langford who rushed for 1522 yards, averaged a robust 5.5 yards per carry, and ran for 22 touchdowns. He’ll be replaced by highly touted redshirt freshmen Madre London. The youngster will have every opportunity to succeed behind an experienced offensive line which has a combined 90 career starts under their belts. The Spartans also will need to replace last season’s leading receiver Tory Lippett who had 65 receptions for 1198 yards, averaged a superb 18.4 yards per catch, and was on the end of 11 touchdown tosses. The good news is that the two projected starters at wide receiver both played substantial minutes in 2014. Aaron Burbridge and Macgarrett Kings are both seniors, and combined for 58 receptions and 762 yards last season.

 

The Defense
Despite giving up 41 or more points on three occasions last season, the Spartans defense was one of the best statistically in the country. They ranked 8th in total defense and were the best in the nation against the run. Their defensive line in addition to their linebackers each should be one of if not the best positional units in the country. They’ll certainly have a lot to atone for after allowing a combined 95 points in their only two losses last season versus Ohio State and Oregon. My professional intuition is that they’ll be up to that challenge at home in week 2 of the season against the Ducks. The jury is still out on how they’ll fare at Ohio State in their next to last game of the regular season.

 

Final Analysis
Since the Spartans haven’t played in any BCS or College Football Playoff Championship Games, their 53-14 cumulative record during the past five seasons flies a bit under the radar. As a matter of fact, they’ve gone a terrific 24-3 in the last two seasons alone. With a very experienced roster returning, it’s easy to see why they’re being widely considered as a legitimate national title threat for the upcoming season. The boys at Bovada are certainly trying to entice you with a handsome rate of return on going under 9.5 regular season wins. However, there’s good reason why there’s such heavy juice required on going the opposite way, and I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see that number go to 10.0 before the start of the 2015 campaign. I’ll have a small lean on the Spartans going over 9.5 for one of my college football future odds picks.

College Football Pick: Michigan State over 9.5 regular season wins (-175) at Bovada.